'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, June 11, 2010

The 21st Century Pentagon Papers? 

UPDATE: Daniel Ellsberg believes that Assange could be assassinated or otherwise physically harmed by the US:

SHENON: Yeah, he [Assange] said last week, at this New York gathering that he had been instructed by his lawyers not to return to the United States.

ELLSBURG: You know, may I say, the expression he used, I was supposed to do a dialogue with him at that conference, that’s why I went to New York. And he explained, the explanation he used was that he was understood that it was not safe for him to come to this country. And then later he explained now when the Bradley Manning arrest was announced, he said now you understand why I didn’t come. I think it’s worth mentioning a very new and ominous development in our country. I think he would not be safe, even physically entirely, wherever he is. We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any Democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism. That he suspects of it. And that includes American citizens. One American citizen has even been named. Now Assange is not an American citizen. But I listen to that with a special interest. Because I was in fact the subject of a White House hit squad in November on May 3rd, 1972. A dozen Cuban assets were brought up from Miami with orders, quote, quoting the prosecutor, to incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally. on the steps of the capital, it so happens when i was in a rally during the vietnam war. And I asked the prosecutor, what does that mean, kill me? And he said, the words were “to incapacitate you totally.” But you should understand, these guides, meaning these c.i.a. operatives never use the word “kill.” i actually think it was to silence me at that particular time. For worries they had that I would leak president Nixon’s nuclear threats, which he was making at that precise time in 1972. Now as I look at Assange’s case, they’re worried that he will reveal current threats. I would have to say puts his well-being, his physical life, in some danger now. And I say that with anguish. I think it’s astonishing that an American president should have put out that policy and he’s not getting these resistance from it, from congress, the press, the courts or anything. it’s an amazing development that I think Assange would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown.

INITIAL POST: From the The Daily Beast:

Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast.

The officials acknowledge that even if they found the website founder, Julian Assange, it is not clear what they could do to block publication of the cables on Wikileaks, which is nominally based on a server in Sweden and bills itself as a champion of whistleblowers.

We’d like to know where he is; we’d like his cooperation in this, one U.S. official said of Assange.

American officials said Pentagon investigators are convinced that Assange is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables leaked by a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now in custody in Kuwait.

And given the contents of the cables, the feds have good reason to be concerned.

As The Daily Beast reported June 8, Manning, while posted in Iraq, apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East, regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders, according to an American diplomat.

The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency computer networks available to the Army and contained information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.

Hopefully, Assange has gone underground, as Ellsberg did during the publication of the Pentagon Papers by the New York Times. But times have changed. If Assange gave them over to the Times today, the Grey Lady wouldn't touch them. Fortunately for us, he can now publish them on the Internet, if Wikileaks really has them as there is some doubt about it. If the material has been accurately described, the release has the potential to expose the concealed hypocrisies of the governments involved in the so called war on terror, both overt and covert, just as the Pentagon Papers revealed that the US government had deliberately lied to us about our involvement in Vietnam.

But, if Assange did release them over the Internet, one wonders whether the US, like the Chinese government that is so frequently condemns, would seek the cooperation of internet service providers to prevent us from reading them. As with the suppression of photographs of torture at Abu Ghraib, the real purpose of such suppression is to preserve our ignorance. And, then, of course, there is Bradley Manning, the brave man who set all of this in motion. Hopefully, Daniel Ellsberg and others are working to put together an effort to protect him.

Finally, there is the question as to why there is such urgency in hunting down Assange and preventing the release of the records, beyond the political consequences already noted. Could it, perchance, have something to do with a possible attack upon Iran? Just imagine what might happen if numerous confidential US military and diplomatic communications related to the US effort to bring about regime change in Iran were publicly released. If so, we can only urge Assange to immediately get them out in the public domain. It may be our last chance to prevent another conflagration.

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